Enel Starts Construction of Its Largest Solar Project in The United States

Published on Thursday, 5 May 2016

“The Aurora project marks a significant step forward in the growth of our solar portfolio. By maximising the distributed solar model, Aurora highlights how innovation and design are driving the future of renewables, while providing communities with access to energy that delivers both the biggest possible environmental benefits and the most economic value”

– Rafael Gonzalez, Head of Enel Green Power North America

Aurora, which is owned by EGPNA subsidiary Aurora Distributed Solar, LLC, will consist of 16 PV plants with a total installed capacity of 150 MWdc1 and will be able to generate over 210 million kWh annually — equivalent to the energy consumption needs of over 17,000 U. S. households — while avoiding the emission of over 150,000 tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere each year. All 16 sites are expected to be online by the end of 2016.

The construction of the Aurora solar project will require an overall investment of approximately 290 million USD and is in line with Enel’s strategic plan. The investment will be partly funded through a capital contribution agreement with State Street Bank and Trust Company2 in the amount of 140 million US dollars. The Aurora solar project has a long-term power purchase agreement with utility Xcel Energy in Minnesota.

The project features a distributed solar design that consists of the installation of multiple small-scale solar sites and delivers a range of benefits, including a reduction in line loss, elimination of transmission costs and geographic diversification of generation assets. Each of the 16 solar facilities will utilise linear axis tracking devices to maximise efficiency and production, and will be interconnected into the off-taker’s distribution system, providing energy and capacity to the local distribution network. Together the sites will create approximately 400 construction jobs at the peak of the building process.

Aurora is EGPNA’s third PV solar project in the U. S. and combined with the existing Stillwater Solar and Sheldon Springs Solar sites, increases its total solar portfolio to almost 180 MW. EGPNA already owns and operates two wind farms in the state of Minnesota — Prairie Rose and Minnesota Wind — which have a combined installed capacity of 230 MW. Once online, the Aurora project will increase EGPNA’s total installed capacity in the state to 380 MW.

EGPNA is present in 21 US states and two Canadian provinces with more than 2.5 GW of installed capacity spread across four different renewable energy technologies: wind, solar, geothermal and hydropower.